When you read the Gospel of John, you notice life-changing encounters that people have with Jesus. Jesus changing the lives of the woman at the well, Philip and Nathanael, and the man who had been sick for 38 years all happen in the first five chapters!
One leading spiritual leader in Jerusalem, Nicodemus, approached Jesus one evening to ask important questions about who Jesus is, where He came from, and what all of this means.
In the course of their conversation (read the full encounter HERE), three powerful truths emerge, with three pictures to illustrate the truths.
Nicodemus starts the conversation by saying to Jesus that, in Nicodemus’ estimation, Jesus must be a teacher who has come from God because of the great work Jesus is doing. Jesus quickly turns the conversation to what is most important: everyone can see the kingdom of God, but only if they are spiritually reborn.
Truth #1: To see the kingdom of God, you must be born again (see John 3:1-8). The phrase “born again” was not coined by Billy Graham or Southern Baptists. Jesus coined the phrase, using it to describe how a person is changed from the inside out when they are born from above. Just like a person is born once physically to enter this world, each person must be born spiritually to enter the kingdom of God. And when a person is born again spiritually, their life is forever changed.
Picture #1: seeing the effects of the wind. Jesus tells Nicodemus (and us), that just as you cannot actually see the wind but you can surely see the effects of the wind, in the same way you can see the effects in a person’s life when they have been born of the Spirit. Their life begins to look a lot like the character of Jesus, and they have a newness of life.
Truth #2: Everyone who believes in Jesus will have eternal life (see John 3:9-18). Believing in Jesus is much more than just believing that Jesus existed or believing facts about Jesus. Nicodemus believed that Jesus existed — he was talking to Jesus in person! Nicodemus needed to put his trust in Jesus as the only One who can give eternal life. Nicodemus (and us) needed to see that the solution for his sin problem was the death and resurrection of Jesus, trusting that the finished work of Christ on the cross was the payment for his sin and that the resurrection of Jesus was his hope for eternal life.
Picture #2: Moses lifting up a bronze snake on a pole. Jesus points to an episode from Israel’s history to illustrate His point. While they were wandering from Egpyt toward the Promised Land, the people got disgruntled and became sinful. God allowed poisonous snakes to attack them, and many people were bitten and died. The people cried out to Moses and to the Lord. The Lord showed them mercy. He instructed Moses to make a bronze snake and to mount it on a pole. Whoever looked toward the pole and put their trust in the Lord as their healer would be healed, even if they had been bitten by the poisonous snakes. The snake-on-a-pole was a symbol. The people were to look to the Lord as their healer and salvation. The snake-on-a-pole pointed toward Jesus on the cross, the Savior of all who will believe in Him.
Truth #3: Everyone who believes in Jesus will walk in the light (see John 3:19-21). Interesting, right? Jesus tells the guy who came to him at night, that a true follower of Jesus will walk in the light. Jesus was referring not just to the time of day, but to the fact that a follower of Jesus will walk in holiness, righteousness and truth, the kind of things that are representative of the light. Those who walk in the way of darkness are not walking in the way of Christ.
Picture #3: a light shining in the darkness. Imagine a candle, a torch or a flashlight shining in the darkness. Even just a little light helps you to see clearly, shows you where to walk, and alleviates fears. Followers of Jesus come out of the darkness and walk in the light.
The Bible indicates that Nicodemus became an unashamed follower of Jesus (see John 19:38-42). He was born again. He believed in Jesus. He walked in the light.
How about you?